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Rotation for the MCAT - an MCAT teacher's opinion

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by JohnWetzel, Aug 2, 2011.

  1. JohnWetzel

    JohnWetzel WikiPremed
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    I've been thinking a lot about the issue of Rotation and the AAMC MCAT required study plan, an issue that comes up frequently here at SDN, thinking a lot about Reactions of Alkenes and Electrophilic Aromatic Substitution as well. For rotation, truly I wish AAMC would produce a suggested study plan that included Rotation, but given the onerousness of the exam, include some guidance to give students a sigh of relief about solving rotation physics problems, in themselves, in their sense as traditional quantitative problems. AAMC made these changes in the last decade, along with a few other topics, I think, after looking at the cost-benefit algorithm for mastery of them in MCAT review, what students have to give up in a limited time frame. This is what I think. As with problem solving using the quantities involving radians in Rotation, for alkenes, mastering Markovnikov's rule, all of the mechanistic distinctions, knowing the anti-Markovnikov reactions, was probably judged to take too many days in MCAT Review. Their questions in the topics were producing statistical noise, I think, where otherwise excellent tests were being spoiled in the topics. There is a lot more molecular biology to know these days than there used to be.

    My feeling is that MCAT review has an incredibly valuable educational function to get you ready for medical school, and that these topics are important to any general review of undergraduate science prior to medical school. I will include Rotation at WIkiPremed until my last day on Earth, no matter what AAMC says, although I am now calling it 'somewhat optional'. It's so important. It may seem far-flung, but you don't know much about molar heat capacity, for example, if you haven't addressed the different kinds of motion, that motion may be not only translational, but also can involve rotation - and also vibrational. You won't be able to understand the static equilibrium of a solid body without rotation concepts. I will never surrender. Premeds should spend at least some time on rotation in MCAT review.

    I feel the same way about alkenes and electrophilic aromatic substitution. These forms are all over the biochemistry. Both alkene and aromatic reactions are crucial to understanding respiration, for example. Respiration is on the AAMC list. What does mastery mean? Without a good sense of the transitions in aromatic reactions between aromatic and merely conjugated products, you can not get inside NADH, the flavins, and ubiquinone in any meaningful way.

    I've written back and forth a few times with Todd, one of the founders at Berkeley Review over the years. Though we haven't discussed it specifically, from those talks I think a similar philosophy about this content, and MCAT preparation in general, is what keeps the topics in the Berkeley Review materials. For folks using those materials, I hope this helps you with a good disposition to get through those topics in a relaxed way. My advice is to study these topics without putting yourself on the hook, because they are essential to integrated scientific understanding, but let yourself off the fear. Look at them, but not the way you look at Solution Chemistry or Reactions of Acyl Compounds. For AAMC topics, the MCAT expects specific problem solving skills and specific kinds of conceptual understanding. For crucial non AAMC topics, like Rotation or Alkenes, I suggest that you should study, but somewhat lightly, making sure you understand the main ideas.
     
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  3. liveoak

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    Todd must absolutely hate you.
     
  4. JohnWetzel

    JohnWetzel WikiPremed
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    Gosh. I don't think so. He contacted me first a few years ago because he liked some things I'd written here about teaching science to premedical students. He knew what I was up to then. I guess from a business sense, the self-learning approaches are going to be putting pressure on the live courses in general, as media-web-video technologies improve, but I wouldn't worry about Berkeley Review. Their really excellent live course should continue to be more and more successful against the national courses in California, where TBR chooses to stay, because Berkeley Review teachers just get more and more experienced which is not the case generally elsewhere. After a good teacher has made it through the grand review more than ten times with the specific needs of MCAT review they are going to get to a unique place.

    To tell you the truth, I don't think they care all that much about commerce at Berkeley Review outside of stability but instead the creative aspects of course development and the educational experiences and success of their students. Besides, the Berkeley Review course materials are really great, so in a world where self-study becomes more validated, and, eventually, I think, superior, what with WikiPremed, Khan Academy, Chad and others on the web like Hyperphysics, Dr. Lower's Chem1, as well as the ExamKrackers materials, which are good as well.

    When the biology videos are finally done at WikiPremed, the next step for me will actually be integrating TBR practice items as alternative assignments into the syllabus at WikiPremed, which is likely to give TBR some business I hope. No commission arrangement. We don't have any business dealings, though I have a secret goal of developing some stuff with them someday.
     
  5. liveoak

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    John, you are absolutely adorable. Andrew Luck would be proud.
     
  6. JohnWetzel

    JohnWetzel WikiPremed
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    What are his awards, GPA, and research experience?

    It looks like he's spending too much time on football.
     
    #5 JohnWetzel, Aug 2, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2011
  7. JohnWetzel

    JohnWetzel WikiPremed
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    The Oregon game is going to be a lot of fun this year. Don't know what else the Pac-10 has. Andrew Luck is the best player in the country though. Shouldn't have made a joke about the Great One. A generational opportunity for the school.

    And that was a nice thing to say liveoak. You made my day.
     
    #6 JohnWetzel, Aug 2, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2011
  8. liveoak

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    John, please try to enjoy Stanford football this year. It may be a long time before you guys have a bad ass team again. Last year was amazing. Attendance could have been better, but your 1st response to my andrew luck compliment is pretty much a microcosm for the multitude of reasons for Stanford's poor attendance. Arrogance towards athletics is just a damned shame. Success in athletics (i'm talking real sports; football and basketball) is an amazing thing that unites a community. Something present day Stanford/Palo Alto truly lacks.

    It's too bad you couldn't hold onto Harbaugh. That guy was pure fun.
     

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